Dalyan neighborhood, which is situated within the borders of the ancient city of Kaunos, draws thousands of international and local tourists with its well-protected beaches, beautiful environment and unique flavors like blue crab. Tourists can take boat tours on a tranquilizing canal that joins Köyceğiz Lake and the Mediterranean Sea or enjoy a mud bath. Even though the number of tourists visiting the district this year decreased 25 percent, local businesses can attract new business with local tourists.
Tourists swim in a hot spring pool, which is 39 degrees centigrade and contains sodium, hydrogen sulfide, sulfur and chloride for therapeutic purposes.
Tourists turn into living sculptures in a mud bath. After taking a shower, they swim in a hot spring pool, which is 39 degrees centigrade and includes sodium, hydrogen sulfide, sulfur, chloride, fluoride and radon, a radioactive gas. Tourists then enjoy the sun on İztuzu Beach, which is 4,500 meters long. İztuzu Beach is one of the main breeding grounds for loggerhead sea turtles, also known as caretta carettas. Rich in protein, blue crabs are very delicious and tourists show great interest in them. The historic tombs of kings are definitely worth a visit.
İztuzu Beach in Dalyan is one of the main breeding grounds for loggerhead sea turtles.
Atilla Gültekin, the CEO of the Dalyan Boat Cooperative, said that two-third of the people of Dalyan are engaged in tourism, while others earn their living through fishing, beekeeping and agriculture. Although the district expected an increase in the number of tourists, they observed a decrease. "Boat tours along the canal are one of the indispensable parts of Dalyan's tourism sector. Nine out of 10 tourists in Dalyan take boat tours and witness the region's natural beauty," Gültekin said.
In recent years, İztuzu Beach was said to be one of the best-protected beaches in Turkey, ranking first and third in the list. "In previous years, the district showed better tourism potential, yet was unable to meet it this year," he said, adding that the underlying reason behind the decrease is the current political situation, which negatively influences the tourism sector. "An unfavorable campaign is being carried out by our neighbors, as they exploit the current situation on our borders. Our relations with our neighbors and what our neighbors experience as well as the ongoing economic meltdown in Russia decrease the number of tourists visiting Dalyan," he said.
Gültekin said the district keeps itself alive through local tourists. "If they didn't travel here, many businesses would shut down. In previous years, businesses did not prioritize local tourists, but now they are looking forward to hosting them," he stressed. Different events take place for local tourists, and there are discounts for boat tours. "We wait for more local tourists to come to Dalyan," he added.
There are currently around 400 commercial boats on Köyceğiz Lake and the canals of Dalyan. Gültekin said that boats offer both luxury and affordable service for every taste. "We have different kinds of boats, including those for fish and crab hunting as well as group tours," Gültekin said. Regarding deficiencies, promotion is the biggest shortcoming. "International boat tours promote themselves very efficiently, yet we are unable to do it well. Even if you have something that is worth millions, it does not get any benefit if you do not promote it. Local authorities should promote us," he said.
Aside from promotion, high-quality service is the next priority, Gültekin said. "I believe we protect nature as much as we can. The public is aware of the necessity of nature protection, and they do it well. All measures to protect our canals from liquid and solid waste can be taken by boat owners," he said. Gültekin noted that Dalyan would not mean anything if the canal is polluted. "Our boat captains receive training to protect the sea," he added.
Coming from Konya, Özlem İrdem, 26, and her husband Salih İrdem, 29, a financial advisor had a holiday in Dalyan. They praised the unprecedented beauty of İztuzu Beach and said, "This place is very beautiful and well-protected."